While not yet old enough to have a driver’s license in Australia, Austin Cindric has been one of the revelations of this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, as the 16-year-old American continues his rapid progression through the motorsports world.
Cindric, the son of Penske Racing President Tim Cindric, is making his endurance racing debut, sharing the wheel of an Erebus Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 with Australian F3 drivers Simon Hodge and Nathan Morcom.
It comes after a whirlwind 2014 season for the high school sophomore, who took part in everything from USF2000 to Pirelli World Challenge and Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites, not to mention a test in a V8 Supercar as well.
Bathurst represents the next challenge for Cindric, something he isn’t taking lightly, despite being the youngest driver in the 53-car field that’s comprised of ex-Formula One drivers, sports car world champions and former Le Mans winners.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime, to be honest,” Cindric told Sportscar365. “To be with a top team in a top car with one of the best tracks in the world. It’s one of the best things I can do at my age. It’s a great opportunity and I’m very appreciative for everybody that’s been able to make it happen.”
Considered one of rising stars in the open-wheel ranks, Cindric has shifted primarily to sports car racing this year, as he takes part in a full-season of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in a Multimatic Motorsports Mustang.
However, with such a diverse racing portfolio, especially at his young age, Cindric has been focused on gaining as much experience as possible, no matter the type of racing or series.
“For me, it’s not necessarily the cars to drive, it’s just for me to be driving,” he said. “I love driving every car. I’ve driven stock cars, open-wheel, rally cars and sports cars… everything. So it’s just whether my opportunities in each side are greater.
“This year I’ve had a better opportunity to go sports car racing with great teams and good funding. So I chose that route for this year.”
While some skeptics had questioned whether Cindric was ready to tackle Mt. Panorama this weekend, he’s already proven them wrong, having quickly acclimated to the unforgiving circuit with maturity and showing impressive pace.
Cindric, who was nominated to qualify the gull-winged beast on Saturday, lapped within a few seconds of the overall pole-sitter, 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series Champion Laurens Vanthoor, who shattered the track lap record.
Not bad for someone who hadn’t lapped the circuit until two days ago.
“I watched a lot of video and looked over a lot of data,” Cindric said in preparation for the weekend. “And I was able to go on iRacing and learn the track a little bit and know where I’m going, left and right. But it’s nothing like in real person.”
With a combined age of 58 between the three drivers, the lineup arguably boasts the least amount of experience in the field, but possibly has the greatest potential, as Cindric and co. seek top honors in the GT3 Am class on Sunday.
And while his Bathurst adventure is currently a one-off, the 16-year-old hasn’t ruled out future outings with the Erebus team, which competes in the Australian GT Championship, should the opportunity present itself.
After all, it’s all about gaining more experience for America’s next rising star.